3 Steps to a More Eco-friendly Vintage Kitchen

The goal of this easy project is threefold:

  1. Get the kitchen pantry organized and decluttered.
  2. Get a system in place so the grocery list is ready at all times, and all you have to do is take a photo of it before running errands.
  3. Stop bringing plastic bags and single-use packaging home from every Supermarket visit.


*Time needed to do this project: 1 – 3 hours, maximum.

As always, I turn first to Victorian and Vintage objects to solve household problems. 
So when I saw this gorgeous (but sold out) item on the Walters & Williams website, an idea began to form... 
You might have seen this system in use on Downtown Abbey.

From Victorian times right up until the 1930s or so, people had a really clever way of organizing their kitchens and staying on top of inventory.  They had these charming pantry lists with little flags next to each item.  Every time an item needed to be restocked, they’d simply flip the flag over to the red side.  The former librarian in me LOVES this idea.  

After binge-watching The Home Edit, I decided it was time to get our kitchen pantry situation under control.  Besides the clutter, during lockdown, our use of plastics went from ‘almost none’ to ‘completely out of control’.  I wanted to switch to reusable containers and start buying bulk to avoid all the plastic waste.  But I resolved to do it with a historic twist!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have something like that antique “Household Wants Indicator” on the fridge? But I’d need to be able to fill in the shopping list with the personalized, modern items we actually use.  So I decided to make my own version that could be personalized and hung on the refrigerator.  That way I can use magnets to flag items as soon as they run out.  And when it’s time to go shopping, I’ll just take a photo of the Household Wants Indicator, and off I go.  

Step 1. Make A Victorian Era Grocery List… But Blank, So It’s Actually Useful.

I guess it doesn’t technically have to be Victorian  style.  Any era will do for your “basics to restock often” inventory.  This is the one I made for our house (below). If you like this style, you can get your own blank version of it here!  

You can really use any kind of tiny magnets and note paper on this.  I’m still deciding, but I’ll probably get one of these:

These could be spray painted red to maintain the vintage look.

These map pin style magnets are perfect as-is.

I might just get a magnetic sheet and cut out a bunch of tiny stripes with an angle on one side to act as a little pointer.

And these mini post-it stickies are for the notes section.  You could also just cut a new scrap paper (tea-stained for the gold star) each week and use magnets to attach it to the notes area of the grocery list.

Step 2. Use That Organized Grocery List To Figure Out How Many Pantry Containers You Need.

When I look for food storage containers, I like really simple ones with no unnecessary ridges or bumps.  Glass is the prettiest, but breakable… If you do opt for plastic, make sure they’re BPA free food containers, preferably stackable.  Remember to measure your shelf-space to make sure your new containers will fit.  I’m imagining something like this:

Step 3. Get Washable Produce And Grain Bags For Shopping So No Plastic Containers End Up In The House.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to get washable produce bags for ages.  Basically this whole project was leading me to these.  I wanted to try out a variety of washable produce bags, so I ordered all of these:

And there you have it.  Three easy steps to an organized pantry and plastic-free shopping!  Do you have any special kitchen storage tips & tricks, vintage or otherwise?  Let me know in the comments below!

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